When P!nk took the VMA stage Sunday (August 27) to accept the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, the night’s most prestigious honor, she didn’t make the typical acceptance speech. Instead, she told a powerful story to Willow — her six-year-old daughter with husband Carey Hart — but her words resonated with fans watching from home and with the whole audience at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
You can watch and read her full speech below.
I know I don’t have a lot of time, but if I may tell you a quick story. Recently I was driving my daughter to school and she said to me, out of the blue, ‘Mama?’ I said, ‘Yes baby?’ She said, ‘I’m the ugliest girl I know.’ And I said, ‘Huh?’ And she was like, ‘Yeah, I look like a boy with long hair.’ And my brain went to, oh my god, you’re six, why — where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a six-year-old’s ass? Like, what?
But I didn’t say anything and instead, I went home and made a PowerPoint presentation for her. And in that presentation were androgynous rock stars and artists that live their truth, [who] are probably made fun of every day of their life, and carry on and wave their flag and inspire the rest of us. And these are artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and Annie Lenox and Prince and Janis Joplin and George Michael, Elton John — so many artists, her eyes glazed over.
But then I said, you know, I really want to know why you feel this way about yourself. And she said, ‘Well, I look like a boy.’ And I said, ‘Well, what do you think I look like?’ And she said, ‘Well, you’re beautiful.’ And I was like, well thanks, but I said, ‘When people make fun of me, that’s what they use.’ They say that I look like a boy, or I’m too masculine, or I have too many opinions, or my body is too strong. And I said to her, I said, ‘Do you see me growing my hair?’ She said, ‘No mama.’ I said, ‘Do you see me changing my body?’ ‘No mama.’ ‘Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?’ ‘No mama.’ ‘Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?’ ‘Yes mama.’
OK. So, baby girl, we don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl, and we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty. And to all the artists here, I’m so inspired by all of you, thank you for being your true selves and for lighting the way for us. I’m so inspired by you guys. There’s so much rad shit happening right now in music, and keep doing it, keep shining for the rest of us to see. And you, my darling girl, are beautiful and I love you. Thank you, MTV. This is a really special night. Thank you, Ellen [DeGeneres], I couldn’t love you more. Thank you guys. Good night.